Elephant Ear SW 9168 Paint Color by Sherwin-Williams

Dive deep into the warmth of this color

When it comes to interior design and color scheming, few choices can make or break a room’s aesthetic as effectively as your color selection. One color that’s been making waves in the home décor space is Sherwin-Williams’ Elephant Ear (SW 9168).

This hue, rich in depth and complexity, presents a myriad of design opportunities, earning its place in the hearts of many designers and homeowners. This article will take a deep dive into SW 9168 Elephant Ear, exploring its character, undertones, and complementary colors to guide your color decisions.

via sherwin-williams

What Color is SW 9168 Elephant Ear?

SW 9168 Elephant Ear is a beautiful, rich, earthy color that perfectly encapsulates the sophisticated elegance of an elephant’s ear – hence the name. It is a deep brown-gray hue that exudes a sense of calm and warmth. Like the proud and majestic animal from which it takes its name, Elephant Ear lends an air of dignity, maturity, and grounding energy to any space in which it’s used.

Often described as a taupe, Elephant Ear is more than just a simple blend of brown and gray. It evokes the feeling of natural elements, such as rich soil and stone, providing a tranquil ambiance.

It has the unique ability to transform and adapt to various design styles, from modern minimalist aesthetics to traditional, classic looks, enhancing the vibe of your room while retaining its inherent charm.


Is It a Warm or Cool Color?

While SW 9168 Elephant Ear is primarily a warm color, its brown-gray composition brings a delightful balance between warm and cool tones. This unique blend makes it a versatile choice, capable of blending seamlessly with a variety of color schemes.

Its warmth exudes a comforting presence, while the cool gray tones provide a relaxing backdrop, making it a popular choice for areas where relaxation and calmness are desired.

Undertones of SW 9168 Elephant Ear

The appearance of color can vary greatly depending on its undertones, which are the colors lurking beneath the surface. These subtle hues greatly influence how we perceive a color, impacting how it looks in various settings, lighting conditions, and in combination with other colors.

  • Brown Undertone: Elephant Ear’s primary undertone is brown, which gives it its warm, inviting, and earthy character.
  • Gray Undertone: The gray undertone cools down the warmth of the brown, lending a neutral balance to this color, making it versatile across diverse color schemes.
  • Subtle Green Undertone: Under certain lighting conditions, a very faint green undertone may be observed, adding an organic feel to this color.

Undertones affect the way we see color by providing depth and complexity. They can make a color appear differently in various lighting conditions and when paired with different colors. Understanding a color’s undertones is crucial in creating a harmonious color palette.


Coordinating Colors of SW 9168 Elephant Ear

Coordinating colors are those that harmonize well together, creating a visually pleasing combination. They work by complementing one another, enhancing the aesthetic of a room. For SW 9168 Elephant Ear, the coordinating colors are:

  • Windfresh White (SW 7628): This is a refreshing neutral white that provides a clean contrast against the earthy depth of Elephant Ear.
  • Divine White (SW 6105): A softer white with a creamy undertone, this color complements Elephant Ear by adding warmth and brightness.
  • Gentle Grape (SW 9074): This gentle purple-gray color introduces a touch of color without overpowering, blending well with the neutrality of Elephant Ear.

To extend this palette further, consider the following:

  • Accessible Beige (SW 7036): This beige with gray undertones provides a soft and subtle contrast to Elephant Ear.
  • Dovetail (SW 7018): A deeper, rich gray-brown that shares a similar earthy nature with Elephant Ear, creating a harmonious blend.
  • Comfort Gray (SW 6205): This green-gray hue introduces a hint of color while maintaining the serene neutrality of the palette.

How Does Lighting Affect SW 9168 Elephant Ear?

Lighting plays a crucial role in how a color is perceived and can dramatically affect the appearance of SW 9168 Elephant Ear. In ample natural light, the warm brown undertone is pronounced, lending the space an inviting, cozy feel. Conversely, in artificial lighting, the gray undertone can become more prominent, giving the color a cooler, more neutral appearance.

Direct, intense lighting can wash out SW Elephant Ear, reducing its depth and richness.

Therefore, it’s best used in spaces where the lighting can be controlled or is naturally soft and diffused. Paying attention to the light conditions of your space can help you achieve the desired look with Elephant Ear.


LRV of SW 9168 Elephant Ear

Light Reflectance Value, or LRV, is a measure of how much light a color reflects, rated on a scale of 0 (absolute black, absorbing all light) to 100 (pure white, reflecting all light). The LRV of Elephant Ear is 28, indicating that it’s on the darker side of the scale. This means SW 9168 Elephant Ear absorbs more light than it reflects.

A color with an LRV of 28, like Elephant Ear, can help create a cozy, intimate feel in a room, especially in larger spaces that can feel too open and cold. It can add depth to a room, creating a sophisticated, elegant atmosphere.

However, due to its darker nature, it’s important to ensure there’s sufficient lighting in rooms painted with Elephant Ear to prevent them from appearing too dark or small.


LRV – what does it mean? Read This Before Finding Your Perfect Paint Color

Trim Colors for SW 9168 Elephant Ear

Choosing the right trim color can enhance the beauty of your wall color and pull your room together. For Elephant Ear, try these shades of white from Sherwin-Williams:

  • Extra White (SW 7006): This pure, bright white offers a crisp, clean contrast to Elephant Ear, highlighting architectural details.
  • Alabaster (SW 7008): This off-white hue has a slight warmth to it, complementing the earthy warmth of Elephant Ear.
  • Snowbound (SW 7004): A soft, warm white that offers a more subtle contrast, allowing Elephant Ear to shine.

Trim colors can give a finished, professional look to a room, highlighting the room’s architectural details and breaking up the visual space, which is especially important with darker colors like Elephant Ear.


Colors Similar to SW 9168 Elephant Ear

Identifying similar colors can help when you’re trying to match a particular color scheme or aesthetic but want slightly different hues. Colors similar to Elephant Ear are:

  1. Morris Room Grey (SW 0037): A richer, more intense gray-brown.
  2. Functional Gray (SW 7024): A lighter, cooler gray that shares Elephant Ear’s neutral balance.
  3. Pavestone (SW 7642): A deeper, more dramatic gray-brown that can be used in tandem with Elephant Ear to create depth and contrast.

Knowing similar colors can be beneficial when planning your color scheme, allowing you to create a cohesive, harmonious palette that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.


Colors That Go With SW 9168 Elephant Ear

Selecting colors that work well together is key to creating a cohesive and harmonious design. Here are six colors that pair beautifully with SW Elephant Ear:

  • Rain (SW 6219): This light, muted blue brings a soothing, airy touch to the grounded Elephant Ear.
  • Rustic Red (SW 7593): A bold choice that provides a striking contrast, adding warmth and energy.
  • Anew Gray (SW 7030): This mid-tone gray complements Elephant Ear’s earthiness and shares its neutral balance.
  • Grassy (SW 6163): A soft, muted green that echoes Elephant Ear’s subtle green undertone.
  • Coral Reef (SW 6606): This vibrant, warm pink adds a playful, refreshing contrast to the earthy Elephant Ear.
  • Golden Roast (SW 6382): A rich, dark brown that shares Elephant Ear’s warmth and grounding energy, providing a harmonious match.

Combining colors that look good together in the same room is vital to create a balanced, pleasing aesthetic.

The interplay between different colors can impact the mood and perception of the space. Hence, choosing colors that complement and harmonize with Elephant Ear can enhance the overall design and mood of your room.


How to Use SW 9168 Elephant Ear In Your Home?

Due to its neutrality and versatility, SW 9168 Elephant Ear can be used in various rooms and fits seamlessly into many interior design styles. Its earthy, warm, yet neutral tone makes it a perfect fit for styles like modern farmhouse, rustic, boho-chic, traditional, and even contemporary minimalist designs.

Regardless of the room or the design style, Elephant Ear provides a calming and grounding ambiance that’s hard to match.

How to Use SW 9168 Elephant Ear in the Bedroom?

Elephant Ear’s soothing, warm undertones make it a perfect choice for bedroom walls. This color creates a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere, ideal for resting and unwinding at the end of the day. In a minimalist or Scandinavian-themed bedroom, Elephant Ear can serve as a sophisticated backdrop for neutral-colored furniture and accents, offering a soothing aesthetic.

In contrast, for a more rustic or farmhouse-themed bedroom, it can blend seamlessly with wooden furniture and elements, enhancing the warm and inviting character of the space. It also pairs well with crisp white bed linens and curtains, which provide a refreshing contrast to its depth.


How to Use SW 9168 Elephant Ear in the Bathroom?

In the bathroom, Elephant Ear can add a sense of luxury and tranquility. Its depth and complexity work well in creating a spa-like environment, which can be complemented with materials like stone or marble for a truly indulgent feel. Pair it with shiny fixtures for a contrast that highlights the color’s richness.

If your bathroom gets plenty of natural light, Elephant Ear can bring in a warm, earthy vibe. It looks fantastic when combined with whites or off-whites in tiles, curtains, or towels, which not only lightens the room but also creates an appealing contrast.


How to Use SW 9168 Elephant Ear in the Living Room?

The living room is another excellent place to incorporate Elephant Ear. As a neutral and versatile hue, it can provide a sophisticated backdrop that highlights your furniture and décor. Pair it with lighter furniture to create a striking contrast, or use it with dark, rich colors for a more dramatic, cozy vibe.

For a contemporary look, pair Elephant Ear with sleek, modern furniture, and accentuate with metallic finishes for a touch of elegance. If you’re leaning towards a more traditional style, combine it with rich woods, classic furniture, and patterns to enhance the warm, inviting feel.


How to Use SW 9168 Elephant Ear for an Exterior?

SW Elephant Ear can also be used effectively for home exteriors. Its earthy and neutral characteristics make it an excellent choice for a modern yet timeless look. It can create a striking contrast when paired with crisp white trim and dark charcoal or black accents, such as shutters or doors.

Moreover, Elephant Ear’s warmth and depth can help your home blend beautifully with natural surroundings, whether that’s lush greenery or rocky landscapes. It’s a color that adapts well to different settings, be it a suburban neighborhood or a cottage in the woods.


How to Use SW 9168 Elephant Ear in the Kitchen?

In the kitchen, Elephant Ear can create a warm and inviting atmosphere. It’s a versatile hue that pairs well with a variety of cabinet and countertop colors. If you have white or cream-colored cabinetry, Elephant Ear can serve as a stunning backdrop, giving the kitchen depth and sophistication.

On the other hand, if your kitchen features wooden cabinets, the earthy brown-gray of Elephant Ear will enhance their natural beauty. Pair it with stainless steel appliances for a touch of modernity or with bronze or brass for a more traditional look.


Comparing SW 9168 Elephant Ear With Other Colors

Comparing different colors is a crucial step in the color selection process as it provides insight into how a color behaves in relation to others. It gives you a sense of the color’s true character, its depth, its undertones, and how it might change under different lighting conditions.

Moreover, it can help you discern how a particular color might interact with the other elements in your space, aiding you in creating a harmonious and pleasing color scheme. Below, you can read how SW Elephant’s Ear compares with several other colors to see the uniqueness of this hue.

SW 9168 Elephant Ear vs. SW 6148 Wool Skein

SW Wool Skein is a warm, off-white color with beige undertones. When compared to Elephant Ear, it is noticeably lighter and softer, providing a stark contrast to Elephant Ear’s depth and richness. This contrast can be used to great effect, with Wool Skein offering a refreshing break from the intensity of Elephant Ear.


SW 9168 Elephant Ear vs. SW 6039 Poised Taupe

SW Poised Taupe is a well-balanced blend of warm brown and cool gray, much like Elephant Ear. However, it leans more towards gray and is lighter, making Elephant Ear appear warmer and deeper. The two could be used together for a layered, nuanced aesthetic.


SW 9168 Elephant Ear vs. SW 7008 Alabaster

SW Alabaster is a warm, creamy white. In comparison, Elephant Ear is much darker and earthier, which brings out the warm brightness of Alabaster. They make a classic combination of dark and light, creating a balanced and elegant look.


SW 9168 Elephant Ear vs. SW 6230 Rainstorm

SW Rainstorm is a deep, blue-gray color that exudes drama. Next to Elephant Ear, Rainstorm appears cooler and more intense. Together, they can create a dynamic, moody palette, with Elephant Ear providing a grounding counterpoint to the storminess of SW Rainstorm.


SW 9168 Elephant Ear vs. SW 6338 Warming Peach

SW Warming Peach is a rich, deep red with a hint of brown. When compared to Warming Peach, Warming Peach brings a vibrant warmth that contrasts with Warming Peach’s cool neutrality. This contrast can be used to enliven a space, with Elephant Ear serving as a calm backdrop to the passionate Warming Peach.


SW 9168 Elephant Ear vs. SW 7020 Black Fox

SW Black Fox is a deep, almost black, brownish-gray. Next to Elephant Ear, it appears much darker and more dramatic, making Elephant Ear seem lighter and warmer. These two colors can create a sophisticated, monochromatic scheme that’s full of depth and character.



Sherwin-Williams’ SW 9168 Elephant Ear is a versatile, complex, and appealing color choice for any home. Its unique blend of warm and cool undertones creates a color that is both grounding and serene, serving as a sophisticated backdrop to various design styles and furnishings. Whether it’s used on walls, exteriors, or kitchen cabinets, Elephant Ear never fails to add depth and elegance to a space.

With its ability to pair well with a wide range of colors, it opens up endless possibilities for creative and harmonious color schemes. Its mutable nature under different lighting conditions adds to its allure, making it a dynamic choice that can adapt to your specific needs and tastes.

Overall, if you’re seeking a color that offers neutrality without being mundane, depth without being overpowering, and versatility without compromise, SW 9168 Elephant Ear is a choice well worth considering.


Frequently Asked Questions

⭐What type of rooms is SW 9168 Elephant Ear best suited for?

SW 9168 Elephant Ear is a versatile color that can be used in any room, depending on your personal style. Its earthy, warm, and neutral tone makes it a great fit for living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. It's also suitable for exteriors and can make kitchen cabinets look exceptionally sophisticated.

⭐Can SW 9168 Elephant Ear be used in a room with low light?

Yes, SW 9168 Elephant Ear can be used in rooms with low light. However, keep in mind that it might appear darker in such spaces due to its Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of 28, which means it absorbs more light than it reflects.

⭐What colors pair well with SW 9168 Elephant Ear?

Elephant Ear pairs well with a range of colors, including Windfresh White (SW 7628), Divine White (SW 6105), and Gentle Grape (SW 9074). It can also harmonize with other colors like Wool Skein (SW 6148), Poised Taupe (SW 6039), Rainstorm (SW 6230), Beaujolais (SW 6338), and Black Fox (SW 7020).

⭐What undertones does SW 9168 Elephant Ear have?

SW 9168 Elephant Ear is a warm gray with brown and green undertones. These undertones lend it an earthy depth and make it a balanced neutral color.

⭐Can I use SW 9168 Elephant Ear for my home exterior?

Absolutely. SW 9168 Elephant Ear is an excellent choice for home exteriors. Its earthy and neutral characteristics can create a modern, timeless look, and its warmth and depth can help your home blend beautifully with natural surroundings.

Written by
Melinda Sherween is one of our best authors on the Decor Creek platform. She is a professional Art Consultant and Home Designed with more than eight years of work experience (in total) in the field. Thanks to her rich experience in the artistic sphere, Melinda could create unique and custom interiors that helped her to become a well-known and highly appreciated specialist among clients.
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